20 Jul 2012
The use of lie detector tests on sex offenders leaving prison should be considered in Scotland, following a successful pilot south of the border.
It was reported this morning that polygraph testing for post-custodial paedophiles and rapists was found to be effective after it was trialled in the Midlands.
Experts said the threat of the tests – which monitor a user’s breathing, heart rate and sweating – made offenders more honest about whether they had attempted to contact victims, or had entered zones they had been excluded from as part of their release agreement.
The Scottish Conservatives are calling for the measures to be considered in Scotland in a bid to halt reoffending rates – if a sex offender fails the lie detector test they can be sent back to prison.
Those involved in the scheme added that even the prospect of a polygraph test made offenders twice as likely to be honest with their parole officer.
It is thought use of polygraph tests would cost around £650 per offender, per year.
Across the UK, at any one time, there are more than 3,000 sex offenders being managed on licence in the community.
The Scottish Conservatives have called on the Scottish Government to consider monitoring sex offenders by satellite tracking since 2007.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said:
“This pilot has shown the use of polygraph testing is successful in managing the behaviour of sex offenders.
“It has resulted in twice as many disclosures to probation staff that offenders were breaking the conditions of their probation by either contacting victims or entering an exclusion zone.
“The safety of victims, and the prevention of future sex offences taking place, has to be absolutely paramount; to prioritise any other agenda would be madness.
“It is vital that the public are protected from these vile criminals by using all the technology that is available.
“The fact sex offences are on the rise makes this even more urgent.
“Kenny MacAskill has indicated he would consider this once findings were published. Now that’s happened, he must act to roll out polygraph testing for Scotland’s most serious criminals.”
Notes to Editors
For more information on the pilot visit:
In Scotland there were 7,359 cases of sexual offences last year, including 5454 cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault. This is a rise of 10% from the 2010-11 figures:
In a Ministerial Statement on Sex Offenders, on 5th November 2009, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill said: “Polygraph tests are being trialled south of the border, and we are monitoring that with interest. I assure Bill Aitken that, if it is shown that they work, we will be more than happy to learn from any jurisdiction.”
For the official report of the debate see: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=4896&mode=html#iob_42759
Kenny MacAskill has also indicated willingness to consider satellite tracking: